Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The American Jazz Museum received a $15,000 grant to help fund the 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival.

*Nathan Davis made an appearance on a local television program prior to his concert on Saturday.  Joe Dimino of Neon Jazz also interviewed Davis.

*KCJazzLark ponders the attendance at concerts by The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.

*Lee Hartman reviewed last weekend's concert by the Brad Mehldau Trio.

*Chris Botti and Marilyn Maye will perform at Yardley Hall in December as part of the Performing Arts Series of Johnson County Community College.

*The Pitch recommends a Jerry Hahn gig at Broadway Jazz Club.

*Tweet o' the Week: Steve Kraske- @bradmehldau trio absolutely sensational @THEFOLLYTHEATER Sat night. Some of the longest applause I've heard at KC jazz show.

*Comment o' the Week: Anonymous- You think the AJM and the Folly would avoid having high profile gigs on the same night. I mean, do these two organizations even talk to each other? Lame! I wish I could go to both shows, but I bought Folly tickets back in September so I'm locked in for Mehldau.  (See note below.)

*The Kansas City Jazz Calendar has been updated for the remainder of April.

*From a press release: Kansas City Kansas Community College will be playing host to students from middle school, high school and college this week during the 2014 Kansas City Jazz Summit.  The summit is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 23 to 25 in the KCKCC Performing Arts Center, 7250 State Ave. The event is free and open to the public.  “The goal (of the Jazz Summit) is to attract jazz band, combos and choirs from across the United States and hopefully Canada, making Kansas City a destination location,” said Jim Mair, Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Studies at KCKCC. “There will be great performances all three days, world class adjudication and on Thursday, there is the KC Heritage ‘Basically Basie’ competition with text voting - a first for jazz festivals.”… For complete schedules for all three days of the event, visit Kansas City Jazz Summit. 

*From a press release: Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The Stride Stylings of Bram Wijnands, Pianist, with Tim Whitmer & The Consort Band. Bram Wijnands began playing piano at an early age in Eindhoven, the Netherlands...  In July 1991, Bram made his debut on the KC Jazz scene at the City Light Jazz Club with Kansas City’s own Richard Ross... Tickets at the door only - $7.00.

*From a press release: Jammin' At the Gem May 17– Massey Hall 60th Anniversary | Bill Charlap and his trio of Kenny Washington and Peter Washington performing with special guests, virtuosi: Jon Faddis and Jesse Davis. The greatest jazz concert ever… Bill Charlap has connected Jazz Masters Jon Faddis and Jesse Davis with his Bill Charlap Trio for the 60th Silver Anniversary celebration of the concert at Massey Hall...

*An apology to Plastic Sax readers: Until this morning, none of the comments made at the site during the past two or three months were published.  The email notifications I'd previously received inexplicably ceased.  I'm sorry.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Concert Review: The Brad Mehldau Trio at The Folly Theater

Doubts began to creep into my mind in the days leading up to Saturday's concert at the Folly Theater.

The prospect of a performance by the trio of pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard appealed to me less than any number of Mehldau-related alternatives. 

Mehldau's new Mehliana collaboration with Mark Guiliana, his partnership with Pat Metheny or a larger format that included the likes of saxophonist Joshua Redman seemed preferable.  An outing by Ballard's heavyweight trio with Lionel Loueke and Miguel Zenón also sounded more promising. 

The small crowd seemed like an ill omen.  When a friend exclaimed "he's the man" of Mehldau before the concert began, I countered that "the man" should be able to sell more than 500 tickets.  The actual attendance probably exceeded 600, but even so, it's disappointing that one of the most celebrated and important musicians under the age of 50 can't fill a 1,000-seat venue at a rare appearance in Kansas City.

My reservations dissolved when the trio tore into "Spirals" to open the concert.  The trio's stunning interplay and progressive outlook immediately exposed the limitations of the vast majority of its peers.  The sheer audacity displayed at Saturday's performance makes Mehldau's group the most remarkable piano trio I've witnessed since Vijay Iyer led a band in the same venue in 2012.

It wasn't perfect.  The performance occasionally threatened to become too dry.  At these frustrating junctures, the sultry cooing of the French-speaking couple seated nearby redirected me to the earthy aspects of the music temporarily obscured by the trio's dense theory.  Even so, the concert possessed few cathartic moments, and at just over 90 minutes, Mehldau's outing was peculiarly terse.  

Libby Hanssen reviewed the concert for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Now's the Time: Nathan Davis

For many locally-based jazz fans, choosing between Saturday's two high-profile concerts will be easy.  The new-school crowd will elect to take in the performance by the Brad Mehldau Trio at the Folly Theater.  The lionized pianist is a media darling.  Hometown boosters and old-school swing aficionados will head to the Gem Theater.  The event is billed as a Lifetime Achievement Award concert for Nathan Davis, a native of Kansas City, Kansas.  Largely unknown in the United States in spite of a stint with Eric Dolphy, Davis will be joined by trombone legend Curtis Fuller, piano great George Cables, bassist Abraham Laboriel and drummer Winard Harper.  Cables and Laboriel appear with Davis in the embedded video.  Joe Klopus previewed the two concerts for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*Joe Klopus crafted an invaluable summary of Nathan Davis' career.  The native of Kansas City, Kansas, performs at the Gem Theater on Saturday.

*A celebration of the life of Dionne Jeroue was documented by KCJazzLark.

*Bobby Watson discusses Horizon with a Pennsylvania-based journalist.  The publication gave the band's concert a rave review.

*Black House shares a blooper reel.

*The Pitch advises readers of the Sons' of Brasil's regular gigs at Broadway Jazz Club.

*The Jazz Journalists Association named Jon Poses of Columbia, Missouri, a "jazz hero".

*Tweet o' the Week: Brian Baggett- I like metronomes. Good times!

*From a press release: Kansas City based group Diverse is preparing to release their second album in early May. “Our Journey” is a project of all original jazz music that was recorded in Paris, France, and features the core members Hermon Mehari on trumpet, Ryan Lee on drums, and Ben Leifer on the bass. Parisian pianist Tony Tixier augments the ensemble throughout and special guest alto saxophonist Logan Richardson plays on a few numbers. Diverse will celebrate the release of this album at the Blue Room in Kansas City on May 9th… It will feature the core members and pianist Tony Tixier who will be flown in from Paris. Start time is 8:30 PM with a $10 admission.

*I've been surprised and delighted to receive a few complaints regarding my failure to update the Kansas City Jazz Calendar.  I apologize.  I hope to fulfill my obligations soon.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ziggy Played Drums

I found the perfect vantage point for a performance featuring the aggressive saxophonist Rob Scheps

As I sat in a low-slung booth shielded by a glass partition at Lucky Brewgrille last Friday, I could only see the band of Scheps, guitarist Ron Carlson, bassist Bill McKemy and drummer Eliot Zigmund if I propped myself up against the back of my seat. 

I felt secure knowing that Scheps couldn't give me the business. 

Hearing the band wasn't a problem.  Their output was so loud that my waitress cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled when she first came to my table. 

The extreme volume was instigated by Zigmund.  I expected the drummer who is featured on several Bill Evans albums to be frail.  Was I ever wrong!  While unflaggingly tasteful, Zigmund is a powerhouse.  Now I know why the likes of Evans, Jim Hall, Gary Peacock and Michel Petrucciani hired Zigmund. 

And for what it's worth, Scheps' stunning work in his frequent visits to Kansas City has made him one of my favorite mainstream saxophonists.  Zigmund and Scheps will perform at Take Five Coffee on Friday, April 18, and at the Blue Room on Saturday, April 19.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Now's the Time: Catherine Russell

Jazz shows are infrequent at Knuckleheads.  The last jazz-oriented vocalist I heard at the venue was Myra Taylor.  Like the late Kansas City legend, the New York-based Catherine Russell possesses a bluesy style that should win over the audience at the East Bottoms roadhouse on Wednesday, April 16.  Joe Klopus previewed Russell's performance in his column for The Kansas City Star.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Pitch touts the career prospects of Kelley Gant.

*Sunday's concert by Chick Corea and Béla Fleck was reviewed by The Kansas City Star and KC Metropolis.

*Saxophonist Ryan Anselmi's new album Lookout Road contains a hybrid of jazz and Americana sounds.

*Pat Metheny recalls the influence Wes Montgomery had on his early work.

*Megan Birdsall is interviewed by The Pitch about her Americana project MBird.

*Jazz blogging is harder than it looks.

*Tweet o' the Week: Nicholas Segura- It didn't really hit until tonight, I'll miss you so so much my sister Dionne Jeroue

*From a press release: Nationally-syndicated jazz variety show the 12th Street Jump will return to the Broadway Jazz Club on Wednesday, April 16th from 7:30 pm to 9pm and will celebrate the music of double bassist and composer Charles Mingus with special guest Steve Lambert on saxophone.  

*From a press release: (T)he Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Band is ramping up fundraising efforts for its trip to the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival later this year… The KCKCC Jazz Band was invited to perform at the 2014 Havana International Jazz Festival in Havana, Cuba last fall. The festival is Dec. 17 to 22…  Donations are currently being accepted to help the KCKCC Jazz Band with the approximately $60,000 of travel expenses...

*From Michael Shults: This Friday night from 7-11 at Louie's Wine Dive I'm playing a very special show with a great tenor saxophonist from Cincinnati named Oz Landesberg. Oz is, in my view, the top saxophone player in the Queen City and was one of my greatest inspirations during my two years there. Really looking forward to this one. We'll be joined by Seth Lee and TJ Martley. Wanted to encourage everyone to come out and check out Oz's fabulous playing and welcome him to KC for the weekend!

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)